Gaming In Thailand, Buddhist Monks Grapple with the Meaning of Video Games

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  1. tom_mai78101

    tom_mai78101 The Helper Connoisseur / Ex-MineCraft Host Staff Member

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    A zombie rises from its grave. Withered arms tangle in the cables of keyboards, and laptops, holding him to the earth. Sunken eyes and yellow teeth stare at the viewer.

    The zombie is just one part of a poster at the One Pillar Pavilion, a Buddhist temple in Hanoi. Broken into panels like a comic book, the banner depicts the karmic consequences of various actions. People who mock the Buddha go insane. Those that work diligently are reborn in better circumstances.

    And the zombie? He’s paired with a group of gamers at an internet café, yelling at computer screens.

    “Waste Time in Playing Games,” the poster warns, “Barely Reborn Into Human Life.”

    Game journalists have intimately studied Christianity’s reaction to games, from religious developers that co-opt the medium to evangelical groups that condemn them as a tool of Satan. But there’s been less focus on how other faiths engage—and on occasion, clash with—video games.

    Which is strange. Games, after all, are a global phenomenon. Having traveled widely in Asia, I’ve yet to find a country where games don’t have a foothold. I’ve chatted aboutOverwatch with tour guides in Vietnam, and watched novice monks play Candy Crush in Thailand. In Namche Bazaar, a supply town sitting at 11,286 feet in the Khumbu region of Nepal, I met a young man who plays Clash of Clans. Mobile titles fit well into a life spent walking between mountain villages.

    But this Vietnamese poster was the first time I’d detected a religious backlash to video games. Intrigued, I started to dig, reading internet comments about phone-addicted monks. I studied interviews with the Karmapa Lama, the second-highest ranked Lama in Tibetan Buddhism—and an avid FPS player.

    Yet none of these provided an on-the-ground discussion of how video games interact with Buddhism. How hard was the backlash? Was there really an epidemic of game-addicted monks? Had the experience of gaming changed how these budding religious scholars looked at the Eightfold Path?

    Read more here. (Waypoint Vice)

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